Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Interpreting Europe and US Labor Markets Differences: The Specificity of Human Capital Investments

Contents:

Author Info

  • Wasmer, Etienne

    ()
    (Sciences Po, Paris)

Abstract

This paper suggests that in the US context, workers tend to invest in general human capital especially since they face little employment protection and low unemployment benefits, while the European model (generous benefits and higher duration of jobs) favors specific human capital investments. This conjecture provides, among other things, a rationale for differences in labor mobility and reallocation costs, which are typically ignored in American ’International Trade’ textbooks while considered as extremely large in the public debate in Europe. The main argument is based on a fundamental property of human capital investments: they are not independent of the aggregate state of labor markets, and in particular, frictions and slackness of the labor market raises the returns to specific human capital investments relative to general capital investments. This is a property that Becker’s seminal contributions could not envisage in the context of perfect labor markets. Two sets of implications are then derived: on one hand, mobility costs are high in Europe and transitions between steady-states has especially strong adverse effects. Jobs endogenously last longer in Europe than in the US, but when they are destroyed, the welfare loss for workers is higher. On the other hand, in the steady-state, European workers, ceteris paribus, are more efficient. In terms of transaction costs, the US pay on average higher search/hiring costs in the labor market, and smaller training costs, so that the welfare implications of each type of economy are a priori ambiguous: no model dominates the other one, and each one has its own coherence, although the European one is more fragile when macroeconomic conditions change.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp549.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 549.

as in new window
Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp549

Contact details of provider:
Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org

Order Information:
Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Email:

Related research

Keywords: training; specific human capital; unemployment; general human capital;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Malcomson, J., 1998. "Individual employment contracts," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9804, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  2. Giuseppe Bertola & Richard Rogerson, 1996. "Institutions and Labor Reallocation," NBER Working Papers 5828, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Acemoglu, D. & Pischke, J.S., 1997. "The Structure of Wages and Investment in General Training," Working papers 97-24, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Joseph Altonji & R. Shakotko, 1985. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority?," Working Papers 567, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  5. Burda, Michael C, 1992. " A Note on Firing Costs and Severance Benefits in Equilibrium Unemployment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(3), pages 479-89.
  6. Robert H. Topel, 1990. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," NBER Working Papers 3294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Rogerson, Richard & Schindler, Martin, 2002. "The welfare costs of worker displacement," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1213-1234, September.
  8. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 1996. "The European Unemployment Dilemma," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 36, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  9. Acemoglu, Daron & Pischke, Jorn-Steffen, 1999. "Beyond Becker: Training in Imperfect Labour Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages F112-42, February.
  10. Decressin, Jörg & Fatás, Antonio, 1994. "Regional Labour Market Dynamics in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 1085, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Olivier Blanchard & Justin Wolfers, 1999. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Arnaud Lefranc, 2003. "Labor Market Dynamics and Wage Losses of Displaced Workers in France and the United States," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-614, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  13. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J, 2002. "The European Employment Experience," CEPR Discussion Papers 3543, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Kletzer, Lori Gladstein, 1989. "Returns to Seniority after Permanent Job Loss," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 536-43, June.
  15. Lori G. Kletzer, 1998. "Job Displacement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 115-136, Winter.
  16. Hassler, John & Mora, José V Rodríguez & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2001. "A Positive Theory of Geographic Mobility and Social Insurance," CEPR Discussion Papers 2964, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Jean-Marc Robin & Gregory Jolivet & Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2004. "Wage Distributions and Wage Dynamics in Europe and the US: Lessons from a Simple Job Search Model," 2004 Meeting Papers 23, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1999. "Job Reallocation, Employment Fluctuations and Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0421, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  19. Katharine G. Abraham & Henry S. Farber, 1986. "Job Duration, Seniority, and Earnings," NBER Working Papers 1819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Bertola, Giuseppe & Ichino, Andrea, 1995. "Wage Inequality and Unemployment: US vs Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 1186, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Lazear, Edward P, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726, August.
  22. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1993. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0110, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  23. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2000. "The Political Economy of Labour Market Institutions," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293323, September.
  24. Hashimoto, Masanori & Raisian, John, 1985. "Employment Tenure and Earnings Profiles in Japan and the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 721-35, September.
  25. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp549. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.